tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 7, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on our broadcast here tonight, 14 days and now the crisis in egypt has become a tense standoff. the protesters say they're staying. mubarak says he is too. in her own words, american mary thornberry's harrowing story of her days under siege in cairo now that she's safely on american soil. cut off here at home. you know about the brutal winter weather that's hit the northeast, the midwest, but did you know about the thousands left high and dry without water, without heat, because of the cold in the american southwest. also here tonight, which super bowl commercial did you think had the most impact. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. human rights watch now says 297 people have been killed in the fight for control of the streets, which is really a fight for the future of egypt. while it's important for the protesters to keep up momentum, to stay angry, to hold the world's attention, today both sides appeared to be in their own stalemate. the protesters have turned the main square into a quasi- permanent community, a village, and president hosni mubarak, despite everything being said about him is still there, still in office in his job as president. we begin our coverage with nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel in cairo. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. this is now a standoff over power, trust and pride. president mubarak says he will not step down under pressure, and the protesters say they won't go until he does. tahrir square is now a camp
city. it's more like a sit-in than last week's violent revolution. the army's protective cordon remains around the square, but protesters worry the military will push them out, so they formed a human shield around the tanks to stop an advance. >> we will stay here to defend our revolution. we will stay here and sleep on the tank until mubarak get out. >> reporter: these protesters fought to take this square. today they held a mock funeral here for one of their martyrs. they won't give it up easily.çó at an aid station, volunteer doctors and nurses still treat five minutes. in a tent, a group of men offer me breakfast. everyone shares here. they're united by a single goal. we won't leave unless mubarak leaves, enough of the oppression, he said. while protesters are ready for a
long standoff, the government is trying to undercut them by promising to implement nearly everything they have asked for. yesterday the new vice president met opposition groups, including the muslim brotherhood, which supports islamic law. the government said it would eventually lift the decades-old martial law, allow more press @l freedom and make elections democratic. but can the government be believed? and then there's president mubarak. the government says he'll stay until the fall to finish out his term with dignity. but the biggest change in cairo now is cars are out, banks are open, the government announced today state employees will even receive 15% raises. that's raises for five million people. across cairo, the city is starting to open up, but there's also a frustration here, that the last two weeks of chaos have disrupted this country's economy and a feeling that the protests have gone on long enough. in the main bazaar, baha sayed
opened his small store but only to dust off the souvenirs. no tourists, no business. egyptians are now divided, with many wanting democracy, but not unrest. in the square, protesters say egyptians shouldn't give up yet and must keep the pressure on, or risk losing their revolutionc the protesters tell us they are not stubborn, but they are r skeptical because president mubarak has made promises to do many of these reforms before, but not carried them out, brian. >> amazing to see the stores open, that's a start. they were all shuttered up last week when we were there. richard engel starting off our coverage tonight. richard, thanks. this so-called people's revolution in cairo was coming for some time. its roots are in years of social discontent in egypt, including high unemployment and a whole lot of educated young people just out of college with zero prospect for a job. it was helped along by neighboring tunisia and it got a
push from social media as we saw while we were there, and some of those who had put the word out are now a part of the story. we'll be looking closely at the roots of the rage of revolution in egypt, beginning tonight with ron allen in cairo. >> reporter: after 12 days of police detention, wael ghonim is a free man. i am fine, he said, and god willing we will change our country. the release of the 30-year-old google executive and online activist gave protesters another reason to celebrate. he first became a hero last june when he and others launched facebook pages condemning the death of a young man allegedly beaten to death by police. protests back then against á3d chronic unemployment, oppression and corruption led to the demonstrations now filling cairo's main square. in a country without a free press or free speech, activists insist new media helped get the word out.
>> facebook and twitter are kind of like the tool that got people organized. >> reporter: meet mahmoud salem, a businessman and graduate of northeastern university in boston. online he calls himself fan monkey, a name intended to poke fun at political correctness. >> i had to come out, my real name and my real face because if we don't stand up then there's no point in this revolution. >> reporter: he's connected with nearly 20,000 followers. as the protests began, the revolt continues. egypt won't stop, won't give in. just this weekend, start registering the protesters, get their names, addresses and districts. start organizing them into committees. in the crowds, young people say social media helped them understand what was really going on. >> twitter and facebook gave people a chance to see the real
picture, to see the hurt, the injured people. >> reporter: a new weapon in an old fight. helping egyptians do battle against an oppressive regime. ron allen, nbc news, cairo. >> back here again today, the white house was walking that fine line in responding to this crisis in egypt. our chief white house correspondent, chuck todd, following that part of the story. chuck, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. well, the obama administration is in what it's calling phase two of this new egyptian policy. phase one was to push mubarak to not seek re-election and to start the process of getting out of power. phase two is about getting this reform process to begin something that is more credible to the egyptian people. here's how robert gibbs described that process at today's press briefing. >> this is about a process, it's not about a personality.grç and it is important that the people see progress toward that
meaningful change, just as it is important that those in the opposition take part in this process and put forward what they want to see come out of this. >> reporter: the bottom line, brian, is that their efforts toñ keep pushing mubarak have sort of been tabled a little bit, as ways the vice president, 1wñ suleiman, and get him to do the reforms he has promised to do to keep doing these meetings with these opposition leaders, in ñ many ways as one person joked with me, it's kind of like mubarak's junior soprano. he's still there, they know he's going to be there for a while. they don't think they can push him out the door in the near term and instead work with suleiman. >> one way of describing it. >> chuck todd at the white house as the diplomacy goes on. chuck, thanks. tonight we want to bring you up to date on the 76-year-old american woman named mary thornberry whose story we've been following here. after we learned she was trapped and defending herself from thugs inside her cairo apartment right
off the main square, after we made contact with her and ñ she was safely rescued, and lu3 today she was with us here in new york and back on american soil. >> well, hallelujah. >> mary thornberry finally back in the united states and greeted by her son, philip, yesterday, and today we finally got to meet. >> you have a huge fan base now. >> that's what i gather. my >> we first heard about mary in an e-mail from her son saying his mother needed help. last wednesday at the height of the violence in cairo, we were able to reach her by phone. >> how worried are you about your safety? >> i have a sharp knife. i have hot water. i have my walking cane and i have my rolling pin. >> today we learned more about that knife, and we learned mary wasn't messing around. >> that first night, about every
three to five minutes someone would be at my door. and there -- sometimes there would be four or five faces. >> oh, my goodness. >> and that's when i would be going with my hot water and my knife. this knife is not a kitchen knife. this knife is a knife with a blade about so long and a hand grip handle and it had a lanyard that i kept wrapped around my wrist. when they would stop for a moment, i'd go back to my la-z-boy and i'd be holding still the knife in my hand. >> that was a serious knife intended for one purpose. >> yes. >> and don't make me use it became your motto. >> that's right. >> last thursday, lester holt set out on foot in cairo to find mary's apartment but had to turn back because the streets weren't yet safe. >> that's the area where we think mary's apartment is. >> they set a car on fire on the overpass where the tank was. >> the rock throwing, the
molotov cocktails, from your roof. that was a molotov cocktail factory they were running up there. >> apparently so. and there was a fire up there on the roof. >> i saw it burn. >> there may have been another one, but at least one. >> mary's son, philip, is a social studies teacher back home in washington state. he had just taught his students about egypt. suddenly his mother on the telephone was part of the story. >> when i called her, i could actually hear the voices of some of the guys at the door, you know, banging on the door, that kind of thing. a little bit in arabic and everything so i knew it was a serious situation and not just her imagination or anything. >> after all she's been through, not knowing when or if she will return, mary misses her adopted home in egypt. >> you clearly love the place. >> yes, i do. >> what an unbelievable story. sadly, mary does not expect to see any of her possessions again. her rolling pin, her knife, her piano, none of it. though she's asked some of the friendly protesters to keep an
eye on her apartment, she fears looters, nonetheless, will clean her out. she says she's always planned to be buried in egypt because of her love for the people, the history, the archaeology. she says she will not return, however, as a single woman if egypt becomes some sort of islamic state. still ahead tonight as we continue, we know a record number of you watched, but super bowl commercials, which one of those do you think had the greatest impact? and up next here tonight, doing without the basics, why a whole lot of people in the american southwest have gone with no water and no heat for a long time.
solved yet. in the american southwest there was a huge demand for heat as the temperatures dropped and led to natural gas and even water being cut off in places from texas to arizona, new mexico, and places like el paso, texas, are hurting now for many days in a row. our own george lewis is in sunland park, new mexico, tonight. george, good evening. >> reporter: good morning, brian. it's a double whammy, cold temperatures with an aging infrastructure producing a wrath of problems, including a few miles down the road from here in el paso a water crisis. in el paso, city officials have declared a water emergency as thousands of residents were left high and dry by freezing pipes and empty reservoirs. officials are appealing for the public's help. >> asking folks again not to wash cars, shower, use the dishwasher, clothes washing machines or anything else that uses large amounts of water. >> reporter: today's warmer
temperatures helped crews thawing out some of the frozen pipes that led to the shortages at the city's reservoir. but with the thaw they're discovering all sorts of new leaks. schools have been closed and many businesses including car washes and laundromats were forced to shut down, and the city is warning residents who do have water to boil it before drinking. in new mexico, natural gas outages have left much of the state without gas and heat. utility teams, with help from the national guard, were going door to door working to restore natural gas to more than 30,000 customers. >> i've never heard of anything quite like this. >> reporter: it was another blow to a region recovering from record cold temperatures, icy roads and rolling blackouts. the restrictions led to a run on five-gallon jugs and cases of water at local stores. now, the local water utility says it's lifting the usage restrictions tonight at 10:00, but it isn't over yet. more cold weather is headed this way late tomorrow. brian.
>> george lewis out in new mexico tonight. george, thanks. a big payday for arianna huffington as aol becomes the new owner of "huffington post." the liberal website she created six years ago. it's a sprawling online media property with over 20 separate sections. purchase price, $315 million. the deal puts huffington in charge of all aol's editorial properties on the web. aol, one of the web trail blazers has been struggling of late in the google era. up next here tonight, something we see almost every day, like we've never seen it before.
you still see them and hear them, but not like years ago, those tests of the emergency alert system that say had this been an actual emergency, you would have been told where to tune for information. not only is it still around, the fcc now wants to add another one, a new one, a system to broadcast messages from the president, who would be able to get a message to all americans via tv, radio, wireless broadband. the big concern in the government is warning everyone when they first test the system
so people don't actually think it's a real emergency. you know the expression the dark side of the moon, well, tonight we have the first images ever of the far side of the sun. in fact these new images from nasa are the first time they have been able to see nearly the entire sun all at once, courtesy of nasa's twin spacecraft that reached positions on opposite and they have been beaming back extraordinary images ever since. at minimum, it's proof that it's round. nasa released some video of mark kelly, husband of arizona congresswoman gabby giffords, training for his upcoming shuttle mission to space. as we reported last week, he decided to return to his day job, return to space, in a few weeks on the shuttle while his wife continues her recovery from the attack in tucson. former president reagan's 100th birthday celebrated yesterday. the main event the reopening of his presidential library in simi valley, california, after a major makeover. former first lady nancy reagan
in signature red did the honors and welcomed everybody. there were speeches, music from the beach boys, all capped off by a giant birthday cake with, what else, a 50-pound chocolate eagle atop it. the super bowl ad when we come back that was meant to sell cars, but along the way reminded us what's great about a great american city.
here's the definition of a football town. green bay, wisconsin, today closed schools early so the kids could watch the super bowl champion packers come home fresh from their big win over the pittsburgh steelers. while steeler nation is still smarting, back in wisconsin, a big crowd made its way down lombardi avenue to welcome the lombardi trophy back to lambeau field, frozen tundra, which will be the scene of a big rally tomorrow. >> now we know a record number of us watched the super bowl and then some. at an estimated 111 million viewers, it's being called the most-watched television event of all time in the u.s. of course in television revenue terms, the game part is the stuff that happens between the commercials, and there were a lot of instant favorites of those from godaddy to darth vader to hold me closer, tiny
dancer, but one stood out in terms of what it did and how it took hold of people. it held up a great american city so that we could all take another look and see an old work horse in a new light. our report tonight from nbc's anne thompson in detroit. >> i've got a question for you. what does this city know about luxury? >> reporter: in a bold, gritty super bowl ad, chrysler sold its newest car by selling detroit. >> what does a town that's been to hell and back know about the finer things in life? well, i'll tell you. more than most. you see, it's the hottest fires that make the hardest steel. >> reporter: no sugar-coated hollywood fantasy, the $8 million ad featuring hometown rap star eminem embraced detroit's grim presence. >> but this isn't new york city or the windy city or sin city, and we're certainly no one's emerald city. >> reporter: and exposed its
heart. >> hard work and conviction and the know-how that runs generations deep in every last one of us. that's who we are. >> reporter: the tag line, imported from detroit, gave the lunchtime crowd at american's coney island a reason to boast. >> this ad basically said we could import to ourselves. we're as good as anybody in the world. >> we're a city of pride. we're tough. >> reporter: today the chrysler ad is front page news here, with more than 1.2 million hits on youtube. >> it definitely captures the humanity. >> reporter: b.j. hammerstein who writes with super bowl ads for the detroit free press says the ad has raw emotional impact. >> this was motor city pride, detroit spirit. it's about sort of overcoming obstacles, never giving up. >> reporter: but detroit's talked of comebacks for decades, from the construction of the renaissance center after the 1967 riots to the 2006 super
bowl played here at ford field. then the economy tanked, gm and chrysler filed for bankruptcy, and mayor kwame kilpatrick went to jail for covering up a sex scandal. today ford is adding workers and upping production. gm is touting its environmentally friendly chevy volt. and with this ad, chrysler is nourishing detroit's weary soul. carmen harlan has spent 32 years delivering the news, good and bad, to this city. >> yeah, we were knocked down, but we're not out by a long shot. >> reporter: a still proud detroit, fighting its way back. >> this is the motor city. this is what we do. >> reporter: anne thompson, nbc news, detroit. >> that is our broadcast for this monday night. thank you for being here with us as we begin a new week. i'm brian williams. as always, we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.